New Release of the Week: 'Sir Arthur Sullivan: Songs'

Apr 24, 2017

Sir Arthur Sullivan is best-known for his full-length operettas composed with W.S. Gilbert, including “H.M.S. Pinafore” and “The Pirates of Penzance.” Sullivan’s prolific output also includes oratorios, ballets, incidental music and dozens of songs and hymns.

This year, Chandos released a new record celebrating Sullivan’s vast songbook. “Arthur Sullivan - Songs” brings together four of England’s rising classical music artists for an album of these rarely-performed pieces.

The two-disc collection features soprano Mary Bevan, tenor Ben Johnson, bass-baritone Ashley Riches and pianist David Owen Norris. The collection is, in part, a tribute to William Shakespeare. Sullivan’s “Five Shakespeare Songs” opens the album and is followed by several selections inspired by incidental music from Shakespeare’s plays.

Sullivan also draws extensively from the English poets of his day. The album’s selections include settings of poetry by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lionel Lewin, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The second disc also features foreign-language songs based on the works of Gian Andrea Mazzucato, August Corrodi, Joseph von Eichendorff and Victor Hugo.